March 21, 2006

Good Morning My Rose

More of my ‘finer moments’? I can’t think of one right now, but they are numerous (and not that far in between). One, involving the Syrians, is cute one, and originates from my very first month in country. When I first came to work in Beirut, I rented an apartment (read: shack on the roof) in Wardieh, which is a subdivision of Hamra. This was the time when bombs and shelling were still a daily occurrence. It was during the Aoun-Gegea era, when these two warlords tried to pulverize each other with heavy weaponry, but instead pulverized the city and its population, or at least parts of it. For my non-Lebanese readers; both criminals are currently actively involved in the governing of this country. Anyway, at my door was a Syrian checkpoint. I had no idea they were Syrians, there were so many uniforms around, and nobody bothered explaining it. Two little soldiers, in scruffy, pinkish uniforms. Yes, pinkish! I am not quite sure who did the uniforms of these guys, but there was some red involved, and as a result it gave them a sort of olive green pinkish look. Anyway, they were at my doorstep, and every morning, when I walked out of my door, they’d say “Ya Marghabar ya ward.” After three mornings I assumed that this was the common phrase of saying good morning. ‘Ya Marghabar ya ward’ wasn’t too difficult an expression, so I quickly learned it, and on day 4 of my stay, I decided that I could give that one a try. I said it to the baker, I used it at the supermarket (Idriss and Smith were the only ones during that era), I said it to the vegetable seller and the barkeeper, I used it on everyone I would see in the morning, until – and this is about a month later – someone asked me why I called everyone a rose. “Rose?”. “Yes, you are saying ‘Oh good morning my rose.’”.
Needless to say, the good mornings ended then and there. You see, it’s the mistake of the Syrians!

There are more of these. I cannot remember them right now. Marijke does, probably. Marijke (another Dutch lady in Beirut, and a very good friend), remind me of one of my finer moments.

Picture explanation: Hana drags along cat food in her little school bag to feed the street cats that sleep in the dumpsters along the Corniche (Beach Boulevard).

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